- Associated Press - Friday, May 10, 2013

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - Here’s a twist: Ryan Newman is eager to speak with NASCAR officials, but so far has not heard back from them.

Newman’s spent plenty of time in NASCAR’s trailer during his career for critical words or on-track clashes with competitors. This time, Newman says he can’t get a callback to discuss his worries following a late-race accident at Talladega Superspeedway.

Kurt Busch’s car went airborne during a wreck last Sunday and landed smack on top of Newman’s machine. Both drivers walked away unhurt. Still, Newman was frustrated about the accident and expressed his displeasure on TV.

“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can’t get their heads out of their (expletive) far enough to keep them on the race track, and that’s pretty disappointing,” Newman said at Talladega last Sunday.

He said Friday after qualifying for the Southern 500 that he tried to contact someone at NASCAR who could “make a difference,” but has yet to receive a response.

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the organization had no comment about not getting back to Newman and added that NASCAR routinely communicates with its drivers.

“No matter what the issue was, I voiced displeasure,” Newman said at Darlington. “From a communication standpoint as they’ve tried to do with us and I’ve tried to do with them, there’s needs to be a happy medium of taking on each other’s sides.”

Newman was not fined by NASCAR for his Talladega comments, a departure from earlier in the year when Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for complaining that the new Gen-6 car did not race as well as its previous car.

NASCAR chairman Brian France has given drivers permission to criticize anything but the cars and the on-track product.

Newman thought he voiced his opinion fairly and did not cross that line that would’ve gotten him a fine. “I could’ve said a lot more and paid a penalty, but I chose not to,” Newman said.

Hamlin was not surprised Newman wasn’t fined by NASCAR. Hamlin met with France in Las Vegas after his critical remarks and Hamlin remembers the chairman saying, “criticize the officiating all you want,’” but don’t make harsh comments about the racing or the car.

Hamlin said he thought NASCAR realized they may have gone too far with the earlier penalty and gave Newman some latitude. “I think that they’ve loosed up the reigns and realized that drivers are in the heat of the moment and Ryan just had a car flip right on top him, so he’s made for a lot of reasons,” Hamlin said. “So I don’t think a penalty was warranted for Ryan.”

Earlier Friday, NASCAR president Mike Helton said he hadn’t spoken with Newman, but the group’s determination was that he was challenging NASCAR and not the product so no fine was given.

Helton said protecting drivers from frightening crashes like the one at Talladega is of paramount concern.

“There’s nothing more important to us in this sport than safety,” Helton said. “The incident at Talladega is something we have the opportunity to take a look at.”

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